Written by Alex Stojanovic
What Dreams May Come
Heretic In The Modern World
Under No Illusions
Down & Out
The Lights Are Going Out
The Bitter Truth
Until The Shadows Fall
Rise Then Fall
Steal The Faith In Me
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Label: Century Media Records
Dave Silver - Lead vocals & guitars / Sam S Junior - Lead guitars / Mira Slama - Bass
David Hruska - Lead guitars (Not on album) / Charly Carreton - Drums (Not on album)
Ali Richardson - Drums / Dan Wilding - Drums
It honestly feels like it was just a few weeks ago that I was listening to Savage Messiah's Hands Of Fate album for the first time and reviewing it. The album came out in October 2017, and now we're only one quarter into 2019, and they have the follow-up coming out now. Where did the time go?
After delving into more straightforward heavy metal territory on Hands Of Fate, the new album Demons, and the band's fifth studio album, sees the band returning to their thrashier roots from Insurrection Rising and Plague Of Conscience, while still containing the melodic aspect that has helped shape them into one of the best bands of the modern era. If I had to compare Demons to any of the band's previous albums, I would say it's a bit close to Insurrection Rising because of the more aggressive direction, but it's still a successful amalgamation of all the past albums with something for everyone.
If you've heard all of the band's previous albums, you'll know that each opening track contains a bit of a build-up before launching into the main riff. Things are different this time around, as the opening track "Virtue Signal" wastes no time at the start, and things kick off with pummeling drum intro before heading into a heavy thrash attack. The track as a whole seems to pay homage to "Insurrection Rising", because there are some similarities to be found here, especially with how Dave Silver lets out a scream before launching into the second of the two main riffs at the beginning. This track could be considered the sibling of "Insurrection Rising", and there's no issues with that. What a great start to the record.
While the band have promised that Demons would return to the thrash-oriented sound, they haven't forgotten about including slower, more melodic and mid-tempo songs. As I always say, those are essential to any album for the purpose of dynamics. The main riff in "Heretic In The Modern World" wins the Best Riff On The Album award, with it's Megadeth-meets-Testament vibe. I just can't help but headbang with a giant grin on my face every time I hear this riff. Trust me when I say that you will agree with me when you hear it. Then there's the power ballad "Until The Shadows Fall". With soaring melodies, an anthemic chorus, and a soulful solo, it's no wonder that this track gives me huge goosebumps. Undoubtedly, one of my favourite moments on the record.
"The Lights Are Going Out" is another song that's on the slower side of things, with clean notes, a soaring chorus and a great melodic solo, but the riff that comes right after the chorus is one of the heaviest moments on the album. There's so much muscle to it with its stomping vibe, that it will have no issue getting heads banging. It has a vibe similar to the main riffs in "The Fateful Dark" and "Lay Down Your Arms". Stomping riffs in the vein of "Sad But True" and "Harvester Of Sorrow" always hit me in the sweet spot. At the same time, there are the heavier and thrashier numbers, such as "Virtue Signal", "Under No Illusions", "The Bitter Truth" and "Rise Then Fall". Even a couple of the mid-tempo songs, like "What Dreams May Come" and "Parachute" have a section that isn't necessarily thrash, but it's up-tempo with a double-time groove. The latter is the catchiest cut here.
It's hard to find a major flaw on this record, as usual with Savage Messiah. However, I would say that the only minor flaw is found in the production. In certain sections, it sounds like the drums are pushed to the back, or they just barely cut through. This is mostly heard during the thrashier sections. That's the only thing I kind of don't like about Jens Bogren's mixing style. If you listen to most of the album's he produced or mixed, the drums sound like they're more in the background, especially during thrashy parts. However, that doesn't take anything away from the songs.
To this day, The Fateful Dark remains Savage Messiah's benchmark in terms of quality. That album has become so hard for the band to surpass, it's not even funny. I don't think surpassing any of their previous albums is even in the band's consciousness, but they're just focused on making great music that show where their heads are at musically at the current moment. While Hands Of Fate may have leaned more towards a straightforward, riff-driven heavy metal record (and an amazing one, too), as artists, you need to think outside the box to keep things fresh in the creative department. That then invigorates you to come back inside the box and feel better about playing heavier and faster.
With all that said, Demons is another spectacular album from one England's finest bands, packed with masterful songwriting, impeccable musicianship, tons of heaviness and melody, and above all....pure metal passion. As a listener who prefers dynamics and diversity, Savage Messiah have mastered the art of delivering those elements into musical form that is appealing, memorable and just downright amazing. To all the established bands in the world, old and new, I command your attention as I deliver this important message to you: If you really believe in giving up-and-coming bands a chance, then here's one band that is a must for you to take out on tour, and expose to the world on a grander scale. They hail from England, and they're called Savage Messiah! Sincerely, myself and all other Savage Messiah fans across the world!
Highs: The band's return to the thrashier direction of the early albums will make long-time fans happy.
Lows: The drum production could've used a bit more power.
Final Rating: 9.5/10